Chaplain's thought for the week
Revd Tom considers the value of kindness
The theme of the week is kindness which has been considered in Junior and Senior School assemblies and Chapel services. It strikes me that kindness is an ancient teaching which never goes out of date. Many of our pupils have heard some words from St. Paul this week, written nearly 2,000 years ago, from his letter to early Christians in Ephesus:
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear… Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
As far as I’m concerned, those words are as relevant today as when they were first written. While those early Ephesian Christians didn’t have our scientific knowledge, our superior healthcare, our ability to travel the globe within hours, our access to the internet, they did share the same human condition as us. All humans value kindness when it is done to them.
Kindness is also the answer to most of the world’s problems. Our pupils now live in a hugely complicated world in which their interactions with friends do not stop at the end of the school day at 4 o’clock. In educating them, we need to help them navigate how to communicate well online as well as face to face. But the heart of our message need not be any different to St. Paul’s advice all those years ago: ‘be kind to one another’. Whether you’re on Snapchat at home, standing in the lunch queue or sending an email, then be kind to one another.
This is the simplest message: there is nothing complicated or hard to understand in these words. They are for everyone. They can be applied at an individual level, or on the larger scale (as we have done this week in raising money for Children in Need). They should be absorbed by school communities as much as by those with political power. We should write them in our hearts and minds, because kind words and actions really do make all the difference. Whatever happens about Brexit (which is very much up in the air as I write) these words are the only answer to healing the divisions we face.
…be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.